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What happens if my child’s other parent doesn’t pay child support?

On Behalf of | May 13, 2021 | Family Law

An unfortunately common issue our clients come to us with is what to do when the obligor (the person responsible for the support) does not pay the court ordered child support for their children. In Texas, not paying child support can have some potentially very serious consequences and you should always consult an attorney whether you are the obligor not paying the support, or the parent requesting the support.

In Texas, when an obligor does not pay child support that person can potentially be held in contempt. Contempt in Texas is essentially a form of improper conduct in relation to the Court or its orders, and a form of punishment the Court can impose on a party for improper conduct. Take for example Direct contempt vs. Indirect contempt.

Direct contempt– would be disobedience or disrespect that occurs in the presence of the Court. An example of this would be making a loud outburst in the court after being told not to do so.


Indirect contempt– would be conduct that occurs outside the presence of the Court, such as failing to obey a court order to provide child support.

If an obligor is found to be in contempt, that person could be subject to jail time, probation, or a fine.

Courts in Texas are not limited to holding a party in contempt for unpaid child support. They can also have the unpaid child support deducted directly from the obligor’s wages (Judicial writ of withholding), place a lien on the obligor’s real and personal property (subject to some exceptions), place a levy on financial institutions (freezes financial accounts until the financial institution pays the arrearages), or even institute a license suspension (suspends recreational, motor vehicle, and occupational licenses).

Each of these enforcement options for not paying child support are serious and potentially life altering. If you find yourself in the position of not being able to pay child support, or in the alternative are not receiving child support payments from an obligor you should contact an attorney and protect your rights.

Disclaimer: The legal information presented herein should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. General advice should always be tested by the particular facts and circumstances of each case. Legal advice is almost always case specific. Statues, ordinances, legal procedures, case law and rules of evidence are often revised.